The 1939 Register

On 3 September 1939, Britain declared war on Germany. Twenty six days later, the 1939 Register was compiled by the British Government to record personal details of the population for the purpose of issuing identity cards and to administer conscription.

In January 1940 it was used to introduce rationing and it later formed the basis of the National Health Service's records.

The 1939 Register is the most important surviving record of the population of England and Wales between the Censuses of 1921 and 1951. The 1931 Census records were destroyed and a 1941 Census was not taken due to wartime conditions. The 1921 Census will not be made available to the public until 2021.

The 1939 Register now made available for public inspection excludes living individuals less than 100 years of age or until proof of death has been authenticated. These exclusions are shown in the 1939 Register as 'This record is officially closed'.

A transcription of the 1939 Register for the Royal Naval Hospital is available here. Reproduction for commercial use is prohibited.


It lists 223 patients (plus 1 closed record) and 10 others (plus 2 closed records). The 10 others include the surgeon officers in charge of the Hospital, their families and servants, and the Gate Porter and his wife.

Apart from naval patients, there were a number of patients who were Army personnel and also one ex Royal Air Force patient.

The original entries for the date of birth of many patients appear to have been amended at some time. The transcription available here includes the original entry with the amended date shown in italics.

The availability of the 1939 Register has enabled us to update and expand our records of patients at the Hospital at that time, particularly with regard to cross referencing to burials made at Caister Cemetery. Of especial interest is the number of Army patients at the Hospital.

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